Vancouver, Canada

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To the delight of the home crowd, Canadians Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier danced to a confident lead in the Rhythm Dance at Skate Canada International Friday in Vancouver. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri of Italy finished second and Spain’s Olivia Smart/Adrian Diaz are sitting in third.

Dancing to “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” and “Still Standing” by Elton John and dressed in bright orange, Gilles/Poirier collected a level four for the Blues Pattern, the twizzles and the lift while the Pattern Dance step sequence was rated a level three and the midline steps were a level two. The reigning ISU World bronze medalists netted 85.65 points, a new personal best.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier CAN GettyImages 1350123802

 Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (CAN) © International Skating Union (ISU)

“Piper and I are so proud of our performance today. This is a program we've made a lot of changes to since the last competition, Autumn Classic,” Poirier said. “It's been a scramble in a few weeks really trying to nail everything down and get it as ready as possible for this Grand Prix.

“We knew this was going to be our first performance in front of a crowd in almost two years and so we really fought to be able to manage our energy with the energy of the crowd behind us. I think we accomplished that pretty well. We were able to stay focused and deliver a strong performance. It was so nice to be able to entertain people.”

Guignard/Fabbri put out a dynamic performance to songs by Michael Jackson, earning a level four for their straight line lift and a level three for the twizzles. Their Blues Pattern and midline step sequence garnered a level two. The multiple Italian Champions scored 78.82 points.

“We are proud of our performance and we see a big improvement from the first competition a few weeks ago,” Fabbri said. “The program still needs a lot of work, it is not 100 percent ready yet. I don’t know yet why we lost levels basically everywhere, but we are happy with the performance and sometimes that is more important than the score.”

Smart/Diaz’ dance to “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner included level-four twizzles and a level-four straight-line lift, but the midline got only a level one. Nevertheless, the Spaniards set a new personal best with 76.97 points.

“It was a good, smooth performance,” Diaz said. “This is our fourth competition and we feel the program gets smoother and easier to perform.”

Caroline Green/Michael Parsons (USA) placed fourth on 72.40 points followed by Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson (GBR), who scored 71.89 points after she wobbled on the twizzles. Majorie Lajoie/Zachary Lagha (CAN) round up the top six (71.87 points).

For full results, click here.